Barack Obama triumphantly returned to the political fight today in a speech before students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, attacking Donald Trump and the “backlash to progress.” The former president hit a bunch of tired left-wing talking points, including a whopper about his treatment of Fox News.
Obama said, “I complained plenty about Fox News, but I never threatened to shut them down, I never called them the enemy of the people.”
Maybe he didn’t try to shut Fox down or publicly call it the enemy of the people, but Barack Obama’s Justice Department did go after Fox News reporter James Rosen, amid an antagonistic relationship with Fox News. Senior administration officials would not appear on the network. Obama administration officials also called the network “the opponent.” How is that different from enemy, again?
Here’s what CNN media critic/cheerleader Brian Stelter had to say about the spat back in 2009 in an article for the New York Times:
Attacking the news media is a time-honored White House tactic but to an unusual degree, the Obama administration has narrowed its sights to one specific organization, the Fox News Channel, calling it, in essence, part of the political opposition.
“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” said Anita Dunn, the White House communications director, in a telephone interview on Sunday. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”
The White House has limited administration members’ appearances on the network in recent weeks. In mid-September, when the White House booked Mr. Obama on a round robin of Sunday morning talk shows, it skipped Fox and called it an “ideological outlet,” leading the “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace to appear on Bill O’Reilly’s prime-time show and call the administration “the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington.”
Stelter seems to have forgotten what he wrote back then. Here’s what he tweeted today.
Obama telling the truth about his media criticism versus Trump's criticism: "I complained plenty about Fox News, but you never heard me threaten to shut them down, or call them enemies of the people."
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) September 7, 2018
Certainly sounds like Fox News is an enemy that wants to destroy the country.
See how Obama’s playing games here? And sycophants in the media like Brian Stelter dutifully play right along, forgetting how Barack Obama’s administration launched a war on the free press. Here’s how one of the victims of that war described the Obama years.
Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.
Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases.
Barack Obama’s record on press freedom is worse than President Donald Trump’s. While Trump may bluster, the Obama administration used the levers of government to go after journalists in an unprecedented way. That’s the real legacy. No matter how much Brian Stelter tries to cover it up.
Editor’s note: In a previous version of this story the name of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was misspelled. It has been corrected.
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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.